“That’s Just How It Is”

Matt Samet
24
282

If you’re a parent, you know the dilemma: When and how to explain the reasoning behind a rule you must impose on your children. Do you tell them: A) Nothing, because “That’s just how it is”? B) Just enough for them to understand the logic behind the rule, and the main consequence of breaking it, but not so much that they can push back? Or, C) Every last nuance and thought informing the rule, so they can see where you’re coming from with total transparency, why it’s important that they not overstep these boundaries, and the many undesirable things that can happen if they choose to anyway?

I don’t see that there’s any best answer here, only parenting styles — the usual complicated interface between parent and child, between one (usually) already formed personality and an emerging one that makes the dance so interesting. For myself, I usually go with (B) or (C) because I know that my son, like me, has a mind filled with curiosity and will respond better if I can answer his questions and take the time to do so. So when we cross the street, I always say, “Little man, take dada’s hand now so we can watch for cars together.” Not, “Take my hand or we don’t cross” or whatever variation on option (A) comes to mind — the A in (A) readily standing for “Authoritarian” if we’re being honest here. And this same “A” also slotting quite nicely into the word tantrum, which is much more likely to erupt if I decree, “We’re doing it my way because that’s just how it is,” without taking the time to listen to his toddler-speak questions or lend an ear to his viewpoint or to consider that mine might not be the only legitimate solution, even though I’m ostensibly the more informed member of the party.

OK, well, then, here is my tantrum for the day, because I’ve been seeing some examples of option (A) in the response to the book I’ve written, Death Grip. The book details the reality that I, like so many other people, when trying to break free of psychiatric drugging/dependence/addiction — in my case, primarily issues with benzodiazepines — was instead subjected to further psychiatric drugging, which increased my suffering, quite nearly killed me, and derailed my healing for a non-negligible period of time.

This is what is so tiresome about the all-pervading mainstream narrative, the “broken brain” and “chemical imbalance” fantasy so glibly and unquestioningly purveyed through the usual media outlets, psychiatric propaganda, and those odious 60-second commercials during the nightly news: That even those of us, the survivors, who speak from experience, with nothing to gain from sharing our stories and in fact a hell of a lot to lose by putting ourselves out there in today’s heinous political climate surrounding “mental illness,” remain ever subject to the far-reaching tentacles of option (A) — in this case the psychopharmaceutical-industrial complex. In other words, by putting our stories out there, even told in our own words, we still risk having them revised or repudiated at every turn by the very people who, and paradigm which, sickened us.

To me, it feels like I’m the poor kid who keeps getting bullied on the schoolyard, but then the bully magically always gets to the principal’s office first to lie that I started it — and the real story never emerges. Or like I’m some poor Manga maiden being violated by a rapacious, waving-tentacled octopus she’s been trying desperately to flee. Or something.

If you’re a survivor, you know exactly what I mean.

The vestigial and often tactile memories of our physical and emotional torment while drugged up or subject to procedures like ECT, and while healing from said damage; the breakdown of trust in medicine and our faith in humanity; the stripping away of our human rights; the onion-skin unpeeling of reality to reveal the raw nuclear truth that a great number of people in “mental health” are basically uncaring, cynical, self-protecting, and close-minded: these things stay with you for the rest of your life. You do not see the world as it was ever again — it is like the grim grey inversion of man’s “sunlit world of what he believes to be reality” that creeps over the pastoral scenes during the old Tales from the Dark Side TV-show opener. Having seen what truly lies beneath, you cannot ever again entertain optimistic and doe-eyed naiveté about the beneficence of modern society, or you’ll be swallowed up anew. When anyone, anywhere, impinges on your person, you feel a cold, creeping fear deep in your bowels and go immediately into battle mode.

That’s what it means to be a survivor of psychiatry, of any victimization. For myself, I will never again compromise on what I know to be true.

So when in the course of talking to journalists about Death Grip or receiving feedback about the book indirectly from acquaintances in the mental-health profession, I’ve seen the tentacles creep back in, I’ve become disheartened. Is it not the point of writing such a book to offer a standalone narrative that tells our side of the story? Why do we have to hear from Statler and Waldorf up in their box seats? Why can’t they just sit down and shut the hell up? Have we not heard enough from them already?

A couple of examples: In two of the newspaper articles about the book, the writers also sought the opinion of a local doctor, in one case a psychiatrist, in the other the director of an addictions program. Now, I graduated from journalism school and I also do this for a living, so I realize that the authors, both of whom seemed like good guys, are just doing their jobs: it’s boilerplate journalism to solicit multiple sources, including experts in the relevant field. And both writers did a great job of conveying the basic message of the book, which is that benzos taken long term can be extremely dangerous and that I went through hell, as do many others, getting off. However, we also miss the point of the narrative by seeking such outside experts, unfamiliar with the book or the evidence presented therein — or quite possibly antagonistic to the book’s basic message — to “validate” my story.

The problem as I see it and as is borne out by the many other articles on this site — from personal histories, to research pieces, to meta-analyses of clinical studies — is that a great number of the “experts in the field” are in fact contributing to these very issues, by treating med dependency or the damage thereby caused with further drugging. By treating minor life issues like anxiety or a depressive episode as pathologies meriting “treatment” with polydrug fusillades. By not offering anyone a drug-free alternative or the hope that there could ever be one. And by telling people, as they did with me, that we’re permanently broken and must always be medicated or things will get even worse.

Or else.

Because “That’s just how it is.”

How soul-snuffing and hopeless.

To wit, from the psychiatrist: “’People who have a tendency toward addiction may be inclined to take more [benzos] than prescribed, which can cause the anxiety to bounce back,’ something called the ‘rebound effect.’” OK, well, anyway… To me, this seems like a suspiciously convenient way to blame patients for the damage wrought by a drug known to downregulate GABA receptors in the human brain, causing potential anxiety issues for, well, anyone who takes benzos long-term. However, by this doctor’s logic, the only ones who suffer rebound anxiety in benzo withdrawal are people who take more than they’re prescribed or who have tendencies toward addiction? I must disagree. The research of Dr. Heather Ashton and the thousands of testimonials shared online by people who took benzos exactly as prescribed and have never had substance-abuse issues yet still experienced horrific rebound anxiety certainly speak otherwise. And I will say personally that, “addictive personality” or not, “dependent” or “addicted” or whatever, when I went to withdraw from benzos, I had not been taking more than prescribed, I tapered at a rate sanctioned by the prescribing psychiatrist, I was not abusing any other substances, and I experienced an anxiety so unrelenting and extreme that it can only be described as terror.

Then, from the addictions expert: “Benzodiazepine recovery requires the use of other anxiety-reducing drugs, ‘or else the anxiety will become overwhelming.’ Again, I disagree, and more of the reasons for my stance are explained in the book, explicitly because I lived through them. Every time I was placed on another “anxiety-reducing drug,” from antidepressants, to antiepileptic mood stabilizers, to lithium, to nebulous off-label darlings like gabapentin, I only got sicker, more labile, more desperate, more anxious, and more hopeless. I only grew more confused and snowed under by the additional psychotropic agents. Which was the entire point of writing Death Grip: to show what a trap it had all been.

During that period, I also lost hope. Not only because of how dreadful I felt physically and emotionally, but also because my overarching goal, and one I expressed to the doctors, remained breaking free from psychiatric medications, to uncover the real me underneath it all. (Yet never mind this; my taper, I was repeatedly told, had to be approached from a “place of strength,” which always and ever meant more “anxiety-reducing” drugs because “That’s just how it is.”) And because when I, of my own volition, peeled away these “anxiety-reducing” drugs once free of said doctors, each “mini” withdrawal heaped atop the monolithic horror that was benzo withdrawal only made the underlying condition worse, leading to dark blocks of time in which I was not certain I could endure another second.

Yes; like that.

If you’ve come off a psychiatric medication or multiple drugs, then you know exactly what I mean.

Again, I have nothing to gain by putting this perspective there. I’m not trying to sell books — and very few people get rich doing so, unless you write about post-apocalyptic vampire-zombies making smoochie-face with dreamy yet tormented werewolf-wizards — or promote a one-man brand. I’m not selling supplements or meditation CDs or action figures or “benzo withdrawal” beer cozies. I’m simply trying to tell my story as I lived it, because I know exactly what I went through and why, and I don’t think anyone else should have to suffer this way if they need not do so.

Not because I know best or because “That’s just how it is,” but because I believe mine is a perspective worth sharing, so that others as thinking, rational humans may draw their own conclusions and make better-informed decisions about their health.

Once the snow melts this afternoon, I’ll take our little guy out for a walk, and we will need to cross the street to get down to the creek. I’m already anticipating his resistance when I first take his hand at the curb, maybe a quick “No-no-no” and head shake until I stop, take a few seconds to listen, get down on his level, and say, “Now, buddy, you know we need to do this together. I hear you, but you need to take dada’s hand so we both feel safe.”

Listening, talking, questions, dialogue, entertaining the perspective of another — when was such vital interaction bled from a health-care arena that purports to treat the very seat of the human soul? Or perhaps it’s better to ask, Was it even ever there in the first place?

Matt Samet, a freelance writer and editor in Colorado, maintains a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/mattsametauthor and has detailed his story in a memoir, Death Grip, from St. Martin’s Press.

24 COMMENTS

  1. I was on a antipsychotic med and to tell the truth it was hell for me on it and getting off it. It is unfortunate that I had to to do the immediate stopping of the med due to the withdrawal, but I would do it again if I knew it was riding on my mentality going so far south I was scared it would be permanent. I for the whatever reason dod not have so much with benzos and was able to not have that hell, which in effect is the same i went through. I do understand the need to tell a stary and how I was treated recently and was told about the fact htat these meds do not cause things like what happens to me to happen, says in itself they are either naive or something else i choose to hope not to. I chose to be med free from the suicidal thoughts i have gotten and the anxiety was not better. I do hope people do wise up to this stuff. I am so guilt ridden by taking these meds while my son was small, he had endured the seeing of what they did to me and was not aware of why. I was not as well, i kinda fell for the further deterioration of my illness. It was not so, I am far better within depression I can handle the sadness a lot better than on meds. Thank you for sharing what you endured, it helps me feel not so alone in my being labeled a non compliant patient. I am compliant to my body not the doctors wishes. The body i have ets me know when something is not needed and these are not as much as others would like them to be.

    • Sorry for the typos I get heated up about how i was treated due to not taking the meds. I went to this ER for several physical complaints not even 4 months ago and was diagnosed with mania and was told to have conversion disorder, which they thought could be done, and Munchhausen was in the report as well. I have been fighting how they treated me in a respect to get my word to them how they treated me was way past poor. It was disgusting and the ER records i got proves what they said about me, which as well gave me some PTSDissues I thoughts. I had just dealt with the other troubles from this and was not happy with how i got that back from negligence. it is no different than what you described with the meds. Just using my mental status to explain the negligence from them. I can”t even sue, which is secondary to getting to confront them. They need to see how they hurt me this bad. All because of my label being abused. Meds are just the beginning sometimes and it is just as heartbreaking to see how many others had such hurt from them. You can’t even put a price tag on how this destroys people in and of itself.

  2. Hi Matt,

    I have been following your story and agree whole-heartedly. In my experience, I was always a good patient. I followed my therapist’s recommendation of Lexapro, stood by while my doctor changed it to Zoloft, was flexible when my Insurance changed it to Prozac and when Prozac stopped working was open to taking both Wellbutrin and Prozac. I started to get visual disturbances and panic attacks and when I told my psychiatrist he looked at me puzzled and told me that those were not side effects of either Wellbutrin or Prozac. I decided to stop Wellbutrin myself. And the little shadows out of the corner of my eye went away, but I was dizzy with rocking vertigo for a month. I thought I had a severe ear infection but the ER doc couldn’t find anything wrong with my ears. I went back into the doctor and told him that I went off Wellbutrin and was now having panic attacks (only several in a year period). He gave me Klonapin and Celexa. I threw the Celexa away and took the Klonapin per needed. I then was in with a nurse and I told her I felt like the Klonapin was too strong so she gave me alprazolam and said that it was much better than Klonapin. I had no idea it was Xanax. When I ran out I tried to get a refill and she refused to until I did a battery of tests and I didn’t have time. I thought I would be fine to stop taking Cold Turkey. I had never been warned otherwise. I was never told that these medications could cause seizures or withdrawal. I suffered really badly for about 6-7 months and when I tried to explain to my psych doctor what had happened he gave me exactly 8 minutes to explain (in front of a med student) and then told me it couldn’t possibly be withdrawal as I had stopped taking the medication a month ago. His answer was to give me another prescription for Klonapin. The next time I saw him I told him I didn’t want any medication and he just stared at me like he had NO idea what to do. He then said “Well I don’t need to see you again then.” and gave me a pamphlet on CBT which I wish I would have done in the first place. My therapist stopped seeing me after I had my first benzo melt-down in front of her and told me the next time that happened to just go to the ER and check into the psych ward. I would have rathered died. I knew that would just land me into the same trap and I have a small child to take care of.

    Long story short. I just want you to know I am SO proud of you putting a voice to this. Most people around me thought I was going crazy including the doctors that SHOULD know better. It’s like they have blinders on. And to make matters worse, I am being pressured by the school system to now put my 6-year old on meds for “ADD” from his teacher. After my nightmare, I am not going there with my child. Make sure and safeguard your little one from these dangerous labels that are being forced on children these days.

    I bought your book today and really look forward to reading it.

    Thanks again! It means a lot to us survivors out there.

    • i got caught in that while i was taking the meds as well. they said my son needed meds for adhd. I was silly enough to believe that hype. WHen he was 12 he said no more taking pills they hurt me, I finally got the guts to think about it and listen to the one who was taking it. I just wished I would have done this for myself when he told me no. I was having much the samr trouble and ignored myself while listening to him. Do not put a child on this stuff, they do not think about the child and they do try to make it your fault for them being this way. My son was hurt and that was the problem, I should have known and i was maybe too messed up with the psych meds to think right. It is a sad thing for me to know what was done could have been stopped and it took a long time for me to stop it myself.

  3. Even addiction specialists are confused about the distinction between physical dependence and psychological dependence on drugs.

    According to the semantic medico-legal distinction between addictive and non-addictive, which sometimes doesn’t make any sense, being addicted to a drug means you have both physical dependency and psychological dependency.

    When it comes to benzos, this distinction is particularly unclear. Benzos can be truly addictive. People can become dependent on benzos in either purely physical or physical-psychological ways. They can be innocently taking exactly the prescribed dosages and get physically dependent, or they can be going for more and more of the psychic numbing and become textbook addicted.

    Textbook addicted or not, it is the physical dependency that causes withdrawal symptoms.

    Doctors and addiction medicine specialists have difficulty distinguishing between the two. All they know is benzos are addictive, if you have trouble going off them, you must be an addict. They think dependency of any type is addiction.

    From what I’ve seen, one distinction between people who meet the definition of addicts and those who are victims of medical ignorance about psychiatric drugs causing dependency is that, once they get off the drugs, the non-addicts never want to go anywhere near them again, and quite often develop an aversion to the entire medical profession as well.

  4. Thank you for speaking out about the psychiatric atrocities
    that you fortunately overcame. The more I educate myself
    reading all the stories, like yours, about this flawed, broken mental
    health system I truly weep. As I told Bob Whitaker last Dec when I met
    him at the Mental Health Tomorrow conference in Texas, if I had read pg
    180 of Anatomy of an Epidemic while my 25 y/o son was still alive, I truly
    believe I could have saved him.

    How does anyone who enters this system
    seeking compassionate help and answers to the root cause when a
    person’s mind goes off kilter get better when the system is set up to
    fail those very individuals that seek help? My family and I watched helplessly as my son was first beaten by the night staff because he was so frightened once he was taken into a locked ward, massively drugged, warehoused and labeled with several mental
    illness diagnoses that were not explained to my son who was in mental
    turmoil or his family despite him authorizing the HIPAA waiver?
    And for a family that has NO HISTORY OF SEVERE MENTAL ILLNESS as well as my son’s toxicology
    report was positive for a chemical substance which was completely ignored by the
    psych facility, in-pt psychiatrist or the several out-pt psychiatrists we sought help for our son
    trying to get a rational explanation and the right guidance for him. The rush to judge, warehouse with massive quantities of psychotropics, while labeling with the stigma “mentally ill for life, meds for life” to a young adult is why I can not forgive this industry. I was the family member who questioned how can this label of mental illness be accurate? My family and I were told to accept “this is when they break” as the only explanation that was delivered by the staff.
    I knew in my heart the boy I watched grow up with a sweet, loving nature, who delighted in his love of life, many friendships and work ethic but had been recently hit by a series of incidents that sometimes life throws at one in the prime of their life could not truly be mentally ill “for life”.

    I consulted my own father, who recalled a bout when he needed a psychiatrist’s help three decades ago for a six month period during some litigation issue, and received tremendous help from a professional. My father insisted what I shared was happening to his grandson during the 10 days he was kept in a locked ward that my son voluntarily agreed to enter as his father and I brought him to following a break with reality and our son admitted he had used an illicit drug which was verified by the toxicology screen the hospital did. Surely, my father would say to me each morning we spoke “something is wrong with the hospital or the psychiatrist that is only drugging my grandson and not interviewing his family for any genetic information or knowledge as to what led to his breakdown?” No, despite my son signing the HIPAA waiver, no one contacted myself or my husband or my son’s young wife the entire time until the very last day. And that was the social worker, NOT my son’s admitting psychiatrist. And once on the outside, no matter the several psychiatrists we paid to get direction from for our son to understand what was the root cause of his breakdown, only to be told repeatedly “take your meds”, “mentally ill for life”. The psychologist we eventually settled on to help my son says the programming “mentally ill for life” done by the psych hospital and the out-pt psychiatrist who treated him with potent meds that caused horrific side effects ultimately, in the end, caused my son to doubt the strong person he had been for twenty-three years. As his life spiraled down and friends pulled away, his wife abandoned and betrayed him because he simply was not ‘Prince Charming’ any longer, he gave up hope. Tragically, my son was so terrified (even though his mind recovered and he eventually stopped the meds) the fear of ever being re-hospitalized and the stigma “mentally ill for life” on top of an life-altering knee injury with surgery prior to his breakdown was too huge to overcome.

    I think reading the 2011 interview with Dr. Levin which was posted in MIA explains how pathetic this industry has evolved into. My now 86 y/o father when he needed compassionate care with short-term medication during a stressful time in his life 30 yrs ago received it when the mental health industry was not focused on greed and collusion with Big Pharma. When compensation back then for seeing patients for not just drug therapy but talk therapy was adequate to satisfy the appetites of psychiatrists as Dr Levin admits to in the interview below. I have to wonder how do these same “professionals” sleep in the 21st century because they know patients today find themselves at the mercy of this despicably altered and tainted mental health system? I hold each and everyone of them who have allowed this system to morp into the pathetic industry it is today responsible for taking my beautiful, young 25 year old son from me, from his family that loved him dearly and miss him terribly.

    So, thank you Matt and to all the other “psychiatric survivors” for standing up and wanting reform in this industry. Just as you suggest being told to accept “that’s just how it is” by these “professionals” is indeed, soul-snuffing and hopeless (your words, Matt). It is only right and just that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder and share our stories and not stop until change occurs!
    https://www.madinamerica.com/2013/04/talk-doesnt-pay-so-psychiatry-turns-instead-to-drug-therapy.

    • larmac,
      As I read your story, I felt myself become increasingly outraged and empathetic. YOUR son’s story is very much like MY son’s story. Here is a short version:
      http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/saving-normal/201303/the-dangers-premature-diagnosis
      Maybe it’s time for all the pissed off parents to join forces and demand change. This label-and-drug paradigm of “treatment” is damaging way too many young people, draining them of hope. It’s madness. It MUST STOP NOW!

      • Hi Suzanne,
        I just read the equally heartbreaking story about how this tainted mental health industry absolutely contributed to your sons’s demise. It’s great that Dr Allen Frances feels as passionate about how young adults, like our sons, are losing their precious lives from this deeply flawed system and writing about it to the mental health professionals in hopes of enlightening more of them!
        Yes, only after reading RW’s book did the pieces of Shane’s puzzle begin to fit. What I have learned since just adds fuel to the fire because the rush to judge, diagnose and label with a permanent disability as “” mentally ill” especially to healthy young men is a death sentence to many.
        When I found out the codes used to diagnose my son in the psych hospital were actually short term rule out codes (only last six months) and in substance abuse centers the diagnosis can’t be known for at LEAST six months because of the lingering impact substances have on mood control!!! Of course NO ONE in the psych hospital bothered to care enough to explain that to my son or his family ( who were beside him each evening), the only hour we were allowed to visit. Though the two psychologists we enliisted to help save our son felt our sons’s dx by the psych hospital and out-pt psychiatrists was incorrect never did I hear about the short-term diagnoses until AFTER my son’s death. If only we could have been so empowered with this knowledge!!!!
        Don’t know if your son’s toxicology screen was positive for any substance but if so, it is HUGE as I’m now researching psychotic breaks without any chemical substance taken prior is really quite rare.
        I will try to reach you by email if I can find yours.
        larmac

  5. Hi Matt, thanks for another great read, for those of us who have lived and survived the horrors you speak of, your articulation of the experience hits the target and makes me cry.

    “the breakdown of trust in medicine and our faith in humanity; the stripping away of our human rights; the onion-skin unpeeling of reality to reveal the raw nuclear truth that a great number of people in “mental health” are basically uncaring, cynical, self-protecting, and close-minded: these things stay with you for the rest of your life. You do not see the world as it was ever again”

    Fantastic – chrissy

  6. hi Matt,
    i liked what you had to say because it was so sincere. so heartfelt. personally i am not at all antipsychiatry. my doctor saved my life. and he did so with the aid of psychotropic drugs. not saying i wouldnt love to go off of them. but i feel that i need them. my brain IS broken. i become psychotic without them.

    my favorite passage from the article was this one: “Again, I have nothing to gain by putting this perspective there. I’m not trying to sell books — and very few people get rich doing so, unless you write about post-apocalyptic vampire-zombies making smoochie-face with dreamy yet tormented werewolf-wizards — or promote a one-man brand. I’m not selling supplements or meditation CDs or action figures or “benzo withdrawal” beer cozies. I’m simply trying to tell my story as I lived it, because I know exactly what I went through and why, and I don’t think anyone else should have to suffer this way if they need not do so.”
    it’s brilliant. and it’s the reason i dont give much credence to the Goldacres and the Whitakers and the Friedmans. they all have something to sell. which makes them little better than those they criticize. but you’re different in that you are one of us. best wishes

  7. This excerpt made me emotional,

    “The vestigial and often tactile memories of our physical and emotional torment while drugged up or subject to procedures like ECT, and while healing from said damage; the breakdown of trust in medicine and our faith in humanity; the stripping away of our human rights; the onion-skin unpeeling of reality to reveal the raw nuclear truth that a great number of people in “mental health” are basically uncaring, cynical, self-protecting, and close-minded: these things stay with you for the rest of your life. You do not see the world as it was ever again — it is like the grim grey inversion of man’s “sunlit world of what he believes to be reality” that creeps over the pastoral scenes during the old Tales from the Dark Side TV-show opener. Having seen what truly lies beneath, you cannot ever again entertain optimistic and doe-eyed naiveté about the beneficence of modern society, or you’ll be swallowed up anew. “

    This is exactly how I feel. It’s not like I hadn’t had moments of “loss of innocence” before my commitment. I learned that there was no Santa Claus, that the real world is not the utopian image I had my mind when I graduated from college; that the world is utterly unfair, a place where your place/family of birth determines your future, etc… But nothing, absolutely nothing, prepares you to have your freedom taken away without having committed any crimes via a “legal” process, initiated by those you thought you trusted more and being stigmatized for the rest of your life because of it. Nothing prepares you either to have your tormentors being “praised” on national TV for having ruined your life “for your own good”. On that regard, we are on much worse ground than victims of rape. At least said victims have their rapists shamed in public. We need to learn to live in a society that glorifies our tormentors.

    Without being much of an uber extrovert, I used to be quite sociable before my commitment. My life was an open book to anybody who wanted to listen. After my commitment and my divorce I became very inwards. I avoid all kinds of social interactions where I am expected to share more than necessary. My close circle of friends is very small, limited to those that I have known for a long time and who know what happened.

    I have nothing but contempt for psychiatry and its practitioners.

  8. Thanks Matt for having the courage to share your story. I am sorry the media cannot just accept your story and has to talk to “experts” to validate your experiences.

    As far as I am concerned there are no “experts” in psychiatry, only struggling students and researchers. Until someone can explain to the world what causes depression, anxiety and psychosis and how to cure it, I don’t believe anyone deserves to be called an “expert” in this field.

    I truly believe that people would not be so angry at psychiatry if psychiatrists would just stop lying about what they don’t know. If they could just be like the doctors who treat cancer, ALS or other incurable diseases, and they would just admit their ignorance, I believe people could accept that. It is continually hearing the lies about how wonderful the psych drugs are that is so frustrating. And when the drugs don’t work they blame the patient or his family. I suspect that this culture of lying is why conscientious young doctors are reluctant to enter the field of psychiatry.

    • “I suspect that this culture of lying is why conscientious young doctors are reluctant to enter the field of psychiatry.”

      I have always believed that, except for a few exceptions, it’s the mediocre medical students who pick psychiatry as their specialty. Instead of becoming GPs, which would be the honorable thing to do for those students who know that will never become heart surgeons, they become psychiatrists. That allows them to lead profitable lives when they complement their salaries with Big Pharma’s bribes.

  9. I have a similar expereince to yours when telling my story to staff that I work with in the very state hospital where I was held for two and a half months four years ago. According to some of the nurses in the department where I work, I shouldn’t be talking about the negative experiences that I had with some staff while I was a patient! They don’t think it’s proper or acceptable! My response is that I don’t think that the treatment I received at the hands of some of the less than adequate staff was proper, acceptable, dignified, or respectful! I don’t talk about these things often but when asked I share what being in that place was truly like. People clam up. All they want to hear about is how wonderful it must have been for me to be there and to get the wonderful help that I obviously needed. Most of the staff, especially a lot of people in the Administration, treat me with a lot of paternalism.

    So, in a tiny way I kind of know how you feel concerning the treatment you receive about your book. Frankly, I’m really glad that you wrote it and I plan to keep speaking out about what needs to change and be imiproved in the hospital where I work. I feel that we’re all obligated to speak out against the system, each in their own, unique way, as survivors of this horrendous and pathetic system that’s wrecking havoc and destruction on the lives of too many people.

  10. Great piece, Matt! You hit it when you talk about the victim-blaming that always lets the “profession” and the drugs off the hook.

    The initial studies on Xanax apparently resulted in dramatic INCREASES in anxiety upon withdrawal, even after 6-8 weeks, which were conveniently not included in the results when evaluating effectiveness. It’s long been known that Benzos are highly addictive, way back in the late 60s when Valium was king. For anyone to suggest they’re only addictive for those who increase dosage without medical advice is arrogant in the extreme and approaches criminal fraud in my view.

    I also get tired of having to accommodate the “other side of the story.” Sometimes one side of the story is based on lies and the other on the truth. Time was, reporters and news agencies took stands on these things instead of promoting this false “objectivity” where every story has to be “balanced” by comments on “both sides” even if one side is obviously outrageously in the wrong.

    Thanks for your writing and telling your story. Bit by bit, person by person, I do think we’re turning the tide.

    — Steve

  11. Matt, I like your writing style. I hope you’re also reading the comments on Mad In America’s facebook page. When you stand in the light of your truth, you also stand for everyone else who is in a similar situation. Doing that is a very important and meaningful life purpose. Whenever you help clear the path for others, it is very valuable and appreciated. The truth is ultimately stronger than any other social momentum. The more people carry its light through the crowd, the more others can see to follow it.

  12. Matt, If those newspaper articles were written about my experience, I’d consider asking the editors to publish clarifications (euphemism for “corrections”)… if comments from the “experts” were juxtaposed with the report of your experience in a way that did not best clarify the whole truth in the whole context of the article. If many readers could come away with an incorrect impression about you which could impact your social health, couldn’t publishing a correction help ensure the editors aren’t vulnerable to libel charges? So, writing a letter they could publish to clear up the situation could be a friendly offer that helps get them out of a pinch, as I see it. Perhaps the letter could quote some information you wrote here, e.g. you followed doctors’ orders, which also do not work well for many people who report similar problems.

    If doctors and journalists don’t do their best to clarify the whole truth, they will end up squirming in the darkness of the lies they didn’t dispel. Many people know the media is often biased toward drug companies and conventional medical advice (perhaps to avoid lawsuits?). Many people can read between the lines and detect when journalists don’t seem to be conveying the whole truth. Giving edtiors a chance to clarify important details helps safeguard their reputations as trustworthy information sources for savvy readerships.

    One aspect of standing up for the whole truth is that life seems to keep putting one in situations where it would feel even more uncomfortable unless one keeps standing up for it. When doctors wedge people from the truth, it does wedge people from their trust in authorities. In a democracy, the authorities are the people, so misleading statements from doctors can wedge people from each other. That’s extremely harmful to pretty much everyone’s social health. So, it can be very beneficial all-around to work to correct the situation.

  13. Bruce Hornsby – The way it is

    Standing in line marking time–
    Waiting for the welfare dime
    ‘Cause they can’t buy a job
    The man in the silk suit hurries by
    As he catches the poor old ladies’ eyes
    Just for fun he says “Get a job”

    That’s just the way it is
    Some things will never change
    That’s just the way it is
    But don’t you believe them

    They say hey little boy you can’t go
    Where the others go
    ‘Cause you don’t look like they do
    Said hey old man how can you stand
    To think that way
    Did you really think about it
    Before you made the rules
    He said, Son

    That’s just the way it is
    Some things will never change
    That’s just the way it is
    But don’t you believe them

    Well they passed a law in ’64
    To give those who ain’t got a little more
    But it only goes so far
    Because the law another’s mind
    When all it sees at the hiring time
    Is the line on the color bar

    That’s just the way it is
    Some things will never change
    That’s just the way it is
    But don’t you believe them